HR Priorities in a Shifting Benefits Landscape

Priorities for employees and prospective talent are shifting. As healthcare costs increase in cost and benefits regulations increase in complexity, more individuals are using employee benefits as a major factor in job selection. Retaining the best and the brightest in your field means offering benefits solutions that are intelligent, adaptive, and cost-effective for both employees and your organization. The one-two punch of affordable bronze ACA-compliant plans in tandem with customizable gap coverages allows employees to opt into the specific services that they deem most important. Additionally, opting in for specific gap solutions means employees are much more likely to understand which coverages they possess and how to use them.

Though remarkably effective, gap coverages are still woefully underutilized in the marketplace. This presents a golden opportunity for employers to set themselves apart. Additionally, this strategy allows HR departments to control costs while offering everyone suitable coverage. It’s the way forward, and those who fail to adapt will fall farther and farther behind. To learn more about gap strategies for your organization, contact Chelten Consulting.

Case Study: Level Funding Plus Group GAP Saves Organization $232,841.51

Every year, millions of seniors purchase Medigap plans to fill in “high deductible” holes in Medicare parts A&B. When surveyed, 94% either “like or love” their health plans. Using a similar strategy, you can get similar results – improving available resources for both your organization and its employees.

The key is to combine a competitive “Level Funded” High Deductible Health Plan with a Group Supplemental Health or “Insured HRA” GAP plan. With the right fully insured GAP plan, you can offer seamless supplemental deductible/coinsurance coverage to your employees, similar to how Medigap plans work for seniors. Employees even get to choose their level of deductible protection. To illustrate, we’ve created a case study:

Current: 96 Employee Group on a National Carrier $1000 deductible 80/20% plan with max OOP of $2500/person. Renewal: 13% Increase.

Solution: HDHP Level Funded Plan + Supplemental GAP Plan (Insured HRA).

Results: Level Funded + Insured HRA provides coverage similar to the current plan (Max OOP of $2150 per person) while saving the organization in question $232,841.51 over renewal figures: View Summary

To learn more about these and other HDHP solutions, contact Chelten Consulting.

Voluntary Benefits Fall Short as HDHP Solution for Women’s Health

Affordable, comprehensive coverage for women’s medical issues was long considered non-negotiable. Today, HDHPs make no provisions for costs due to pregnancy, including the common and often expensive C-section. A recent study by Castlight Health found that delivery prices alone vary wildly, with some hospitals charging over $25,000 for traditional deliveries and over $40,000 for a C-section.

Hospital indemnity coverages are no better. Unlike group health plans, these VB plans all include benefits limitations based upon pre-existing conditions. An employee or spouse may be pregnant at open enrollment and denied coverage or benefits at a later date.

What is the solution? Where should HR departments turn? Group supplemental health plans (GAP plans) function much like the Medigap plans seniors use to round out their Medicare coverage. When surveyed, 94% either “like or love” their health plans. There are a dozen carriers today selling GAP plans that cover deductible and cost sharing expenses – including prenatal care and delivery.

Your organization can better support employees who expect or intend to have children through elective coverage options: learn more here.

Expense Recovery and Cost Reduction – How Much of Yours Is Going to Waste?

Businesses hemorrhage funds for a variety of reasons. Among the most substantial are overpaid invoices, poor utilization of tax incentives, improper filing classification, and related expenditures. These are relatively easy to correct through expense recovery and cost reduction programs like Stryde. The real question is – then what? Savings yields have become trivial, conservative stock portfolios don’t do much better, and more aggressive avenues tend to present significant risk.

This is where Business Owners’ Retirement Plans become so valuable.

  • We represent Commercial Lenders willing to lend your business $1,000,000 or more on an “interest only” basis.
  • These funds are then deposited into an Index account, for the Owner’s benefit, free from market risk, growing tax deferred.
  • At retirement, the Owner can receive lifetime proceeds “tax free”.
  • At the Owner’s death, the loan is repaid and any remaining funds are distributed to the Owner’s beneficiaries, tax free.

A key component of saving for retirement in this manner is how the money interacts with taxation:

  • Tax Deferred Growth
  • Tax Free Lifetime Distribution
  • Tax Free Distribution At Death

To learn more about leveraging your business to retire well, contact Chelten Consulting.

Improved Communication and Adoption of GAP Coverages Critical to Long-Term HDHP Success

High deductible health plans continue to demonstrate broad appeal even as Congress attempts to pass alternative healthcare legislation. While HDHPs have proven quite effective for some of their insured, many fail to get the specific care they need. High-end health plans that offer more coverage cost dramatically more as services are expanded in every direction. But healthcare isn’t a universal issue with a universal solution.

Surprisingly, both employer and employee adoption of GAP coverages remains low. Some of the most significant voluntary benefits such as critical illness, hospital indemnity, and accident insurance are still not regularly offered alongside HDHPs, creating alarming gaps in coverage – especially for those with health issues that require periodic visits to the doctor and/or pharmacy.

Even when they are offered, employee enrollment rates are modest – a challenge for employer and employee alike. Companies that fail to offer gap coverages and leverage their adaptability as a strong employee benefit will fail to remain competitive in the long term – whether legislation changes or remains as it is today. To learn more about HDHPs, gap coverage, and employee benefits communication, contact us.

Top 3 Ways to Improve Employee Understanding of Company Benefits

Human resource (HR) benefits account for 30 percent of compensation spending in most organizations; companies seek to ensure their return in investment (ROI) is as high as possible. At the same time, employers want employees to understand and appreciate the value of their benefits package. If employees are not aware of the full range of their benefits, or don’t understand how to utilize their benefits, a lot of money is being left on the table in unused benefits.

Employers spend a significant amount of money to provide their employees with an attractive compensation and benefits package. But for some workers, understanding their benefits can be challenging, creating a situation where they do not access or fully use their benefits. And, at the end of the day, money left on the table when it comes to benefits is a lost opportunity for your employees and your company because a comprehensive benefits package increases employee satisfaction and reduces turnover. Understanding their benefits can help some employees better understand their coverage and get more from their benefits package.

Here are the top 3 ways your company HR department can help employees understand and access their benefits.

  1. Brand your company HR department

Branding your company HR department is important so that employees recognize letters from your department as vital and therefore will open regular mail, emails, app notifications, etc. sent to them at a higher rate. Whether you represent a large or small company, brand every bit of communication that is sent to your employees. Every time your employees see that brand, they will hopefully pay attention.

  1. Analyze the data

Take the time to data mine to discover the benefits that your employees tend to not use. Create a graphic that demonstrates the benefits and the corresponding dollar amounts that have been unused according to frequency (i.e. Top 10 Most Frequently Unused Benefits by Dollar Amount or some other type of chart) that helps employees clearly see the company investment they did not take advantage of in the last year. This can be a very effective way of communicating the value of lost benefits.

  1. Simplify your communication messaging

Typically, most companies communicate with employees about their benefits a couple of times a year. Especially if the communication is in the form of a super thick package of paper that includes a great deal of medical jargon that may be in the form of acronyms and terms that are difficult to understand, employee’s eyes will glaze over and the packet will be filed somewhere for later consumption, which may never happen. Increase the chances that your communication will be read by piecing your messaging out in communications that are easy to read and understand. Track your communication open rates and program enrollment rates to determine effectiveness and adjust your communications accordingly.

If your employees don’t understand or appreciate their benefits, your company is not capitalizing on the investment they’ve made as the important motivational tool it can be. It pays to take the time to implement ways to improve the perception your employees have of their total compensation. Improving their understanding is relatively inexpensive and well worth the effort.

To learn more about benefits communication, contact Chelten Consulting.

The Three W’s of Employee Benefits Communication

Employers need to realize that benefits are intimidating for most employees. While benefits are necessary, it is daunting for an employee to make decisions regarding their health and fiscal security. Many companies treat employee benefits as an afterthought. They deliver a massive booklet and expect employees to comb through pages upon pages of important information. This usually results in poor engagement and does nothing to improve employees’ understanding of their benefits package. To maximize the effectiveness of benefits communications, employers need to ensure their information is well timed, well constructed, and well planned.

Well Timed

Sending out communications requires planning and smart scheduling. If a business sends out company-wide announcements on a quarterly basis, they should not schedule benefits communications for that time. Too much information overloads employees and guarantees they will not give the information their full attention. In addition, companies should try to avoid scheduling open enrollment to conclude on a weekend. Employees will have last minute questions or need help understanding their benefits up until the deadline.

Well Constructed

If a company does not spend the time necessary to create benefits communications that provide valuable information, they cannot expect their employees to invest in it either. Content needs to be simple and relevant. For example, many companies are shifting their focus to improve employee wellness. However, telling employees to go on a short walk during their lunch break is not helpful. Employees know exercise is good for them; instead, offer information about different walking trails nearby.

Well Planned

The quality and consistency of benefits communications are more important than the quantity. Businesses should view their benefits communications as a sales pitch. Try to sell employees on why they should engage with their benefits. The layout and appearance of benefits communications matters as well. No employee wants to read a wall of text. Another element to consider is the method of communication. Some benefits communications are more effective as a text message reminder than as an email campaign.

Need more ideas for effective benefits communication? Contact the experts at Chelten Consulting.

Benefits to Recruit and Retain Talent

Base pay goes a long way to finding and retaining quality employees. However, many employees are willing to work for a slightly smaller salary for the right set of benefits. Employers cannot afford high employee turnover rates. While health insurance will always be the top benefit, there are multiple other low-cost benefits employers can use to retain their workforce.

  1. Health insurance. Employees want better medical, dental, and vision insurance. One study found almost 90% of respondents would give superior benefits some consideration when looking for a new job.
  2. Work-life balance. Employees want more vacation time and paid time off. However, they are also interested in work from home options and flexible work hours. These types of benefits can sway employees to take a lower paying job for its greater benefits. Consider offering flexible start times or incorporating the option to work from home one to two days per week. This does not cost employers money, but it does earn employee loyalty.
  3. Student loan forgiveness and tuition assistance. It should not surprise employers that more and more employees want help paying back student loans or financing their degree. The current generation entering the workforce has more college debt than previous generations, but they are earning the same salary as their less indebted peers. While this may seem expensive at first glance, it does not have to be. Consider offering to pay $100 a month toward existing student loans. This comes out to $1200 per year. This is often a much easier sum to manage than offering an increased salary to compete with other businesses.

Employers who keep losing talented candidates or existing employees to competitors may need to reevaluate their current benefits package. If rival companies are not proposing exorbitant salaries to lure away workers, they are likely offering them better benefits. To learn more about how benefits can help your business stay competitive, contact the experts at Chelten Consulting.

Improve Employee Wellness with Effective Benefits Communication

Despite dramatic advancements in technology and a new generation joining the workforce, benefits communication is not adapting. Methods of benefits communication from years past are no longer working for the much more modern and tech-savvy millennials. Benefits need to support employees’ mental, physical, and fiscal wellness. Most employees want benefits that improve their life now. They do not want a benefits package that only kicks in should they fall ill.

Focus on Prevention, Not a Cure

Employees would much rather their benefits help them avoid problems rather than address them after they occur. For instance, excessive stress can cause a strain on mental health. Employees would much rather have a wellness program to help reduce stress and prevent anxiety-induced illnesses than see a professional to help them recover after the fact. While employers still need to offer traditional health benefits, their approach to wellness needs to change. Shifting the focus from treatment to prevention is vital to improving employees’ wellbeing and job satisfaction.

Benefits Communication Equally Important as Design

Offering a comprehensive and appealing benefits package that focuses on employees’ wellbeing is only half of the equation. Most employees do not understand their benefits. Many are unaware what is available to them as well. If employees do not realize what their employer is offering, they will not take advantage of it or appreciate it.

There is immense value in continuous benefits communication and leveraging technology to do so. Employers should disperse information in a timely manner so that it is relevant. Waiting until right before open enrollment overloads employees with too much information. Offering benefits information and wellness tools through an online portal simplifies the process for employees. It keeps all of the important information in one location so employees do not need to search through multiple channels. Fewer obstacles help improve engagement. To learn more about effective benefits communication strategies, contact Chelten Consulting.

Dental Benefits Still Key to Competitive Hiring Practices

Many employers are struggling to remain competitive when hiring new employees. Many are adjusting salaries to contend with rival companies, offering modern benefits such as pet insurance, and focusing on employee wellness to stay ahead. However, some benefits will always appeal to prospective and current employees. Affordable health insurance will always top the list of necessary benefits, but dental is another benefit with broad appeal.

Why is Dental Insurance Important?

Almost all employees feel dental insurance is necessary regardless of age. While many companies are trying to balance benefits to suit the needs of multiple age groups, dental insurance is a benefit that bridges generational divides. This has big implications for all businesses, small businesses included.

In fact, small businesses stand the most to gain by adding dental insurance to their benefits package. Many employers erroneously assume that younger employees do not value dental insurance as much as older employees, but this is not the case. Many small businesses with less than 10 employees neglect dental, and it may cost them talented candidates if their competitors provide it.

Below are additional reasons employers should consider adding dental coverage to their benefits package.

  • Preventative care improves morale and reduces absences related to preventable conditions.
  • Employees want nicer looking teeth. Employees appreciate dental plans that include whitening, orthodontia, and other dental procedures.
  • Dental insurance can contribute to employee wellness programs. Employee wellness programs help employees maintain good health; this can include good oral health as well.

Employers should reevaluate their benefits package from time to time to ensure it meets employees’ expectations. If a company’s benefit offerings are lacking or falling behind the competition, they may start to experience retention and hiring problems. To learn more about using benefits as part of an effective hiring strategy, contact Chelten Consulting.